Test Drive: Driving pleasure in a small Jaguar


2017 Jaguar XE 35t R Sport
2017 Jaguar XE 35t R Sport

Maybe we shouldn’t admit it, but sometimes, the first thing we do in a newly delivered test car is change the satellite-radio presets while driving to work. But once we got our 2017 Jaguar XE 35t R-Sport onto the highway, we forgot about the presets. And only partly because we couldn’t figure out how they worked on the fly.

New for 2017, the XE is so athletic, so quick and responsive, its deficiencies fade into the background as the scenery flies by. What deficiencies, you ask? Well, the audio and infotainment system isn’t a model of simplicity, the back seat is cramped, and the roofline is low enough to induce tall drivers to think about what’s above their heads, even if they don’t actually make contact with the ceiling. And this Jaguar offers nothing to compare with rival BMW’s center-mounted iDrive system, a master control we hated at first but have come to love. (A number of automakers, including some that are well downscale of BMW and Jaguar, have deployed similar devices.)

Our XE had a base price of $49,200. It was equipped with a 340-horsepower, supercharged V-6 engine and 8-speed shiftable automatic transmission. Option packages brought the sticker price to $57,545. For a luxury sedan slotted between compact and midsize, that’s competitive. The Cadillac ATS we test-drove recently was a smaller ride and had a smaller sticker price to go with it: $52,170.

Interior view of the 2017 Jaguar XE 35t R Sport.
Interior view of the 2017 Jaguar XE 35t R Sport.

Jaguar rolled out the XE in numerous configurations. The least expensive version, the 25t, starts at $34,900. It comes with a 2-liter turbocharged Four – yes, a Four, in this performance-oriented sport sedan – that produces 240 horsepower. With rear-wheel drive, it can deliver 30 mpg on the highway, the same as the more heavily muscled 35t. Both engines require premium unleaded gasoline.

Even less thirsty is the diesel-powered XE 20d, rated at 42 mpg in highway driving. Its base price is $36,400.

All-wheel drive is available in all trim levels except the 25t.

As noted, the chief pleasure to be found in driving this Jaguar is in the exercise of power and control. The XE handles flawlessly, providing plenty of road feel despite a nearly complete lack of road noise. The car discreetly lets the driver know when it hits a pothole or expansion joint, of which there are many on the highway we use when commuting from Bethel to Waterbury. But the XE shrugs off those obstacles as petty annoyances to be dealt with by the car’s suspension.

The XE has roared into the U.S. market and gotten noticed. September was Jaguar’s best sales month since 2003, and the XE led the way with 829 units sold. The F-Pace sport-utility vehicle, built on the same platform as the XE, came in second with 809.

(Note: Because of incorrect information provided by one of the websites we use, the grade of gasoline required for the 2017 Cadillac XT5 was listed incorrectly Oct. 13. The XT5’s 3.6-liter V-6 engine uses regular unleaded gasoline.)

Steven Macoy (semacoy@gmail.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn.

2017 Jaguar XE 35t R Sport

Price: $57,545

Engine: 3.0-liter supercharged V-6, 340 horsepower, 332 lb.-ft. torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic with shift paddles

Drive: rear-wheel

Weight: 3,605 lb.

Suspension: double-wishbone front, multi-link rear

Wheels: 20-in. propeller 10-spoke

Tires: front, P235/35R20; rear, P265/30R20, summer performance

Seating capacity: 5

Luggage capacity: 15.9 cu. ft.

Fuel capacity: 16.6 gallons

Fuel economy: 21 mpg city, 30 mpg highway

Fuel type: premium unleaded gasoline